For Palestinians, It’s Lights Out at the Washington Post
In recent months, the Washington Post has put the phrase “democracy dies in darkness” on its masthead — the first time that the paper has ever officially adopted a slogan. Yet, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Post readers have been left in the dark about critical information and events.
The Post seems incapable of reporting on the Palestinians, unless the stories can somehow be connected to Israel. A look at recent coverage offers some examples.
June 2017 marks the ten-year anniversary of Hamas seizing power in the Gaza Strip — a hugely important event for Israelis, Palestinian Arabs and the entire Middle East.
Hamas, a US-designated terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction, seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, after a brief, but bloody, fight with Fatah, the movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas had won January 2006 elections in the Strip that many observers had expected Fatah to win. Yet despite Hamas’ victory in the parliamentary elections, PA President Mahmoud Abbas remained the head of government. In 2007, Hamas drove Fatah and Abbas out of Gaza.
Ten years on, the negative consequences of Hamas’ rule are apparent. The terror group has made continuous war on the Jewish state — launching rockets at civilians, kidnapping and murdering Israelis, and trying to carry out the group’s stated objective: annihilating Israel and establishing an Islamic state. Since Hamas seized power in Gaza, there have been three major conflicts with Israel — in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
The consequences for the Palestinians living under Hamas’ rule have also been grim. Hamas frequently launches terror attacks, and then uses its own population as “human shields” to deter an Israeli response; this is a double war crime. The group’s obsession with destroying Israel has led to its using foreign aid and most of its resources for incessant warfare and terror, instead of state building. Furthermore, much of that aid is pocketed by Hamas’ corrupt leadership, many of whom live in luxury outside Gaza’s borders — or is spent building a culture in which anti-Jewish violence is encouraged, taught and enshrined.
In a June 15, 2007, report on Hamas’ seizure of power, the Washington Post stated that President George W. Bush’s June 2002 call for the “Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror,” was now a failure. At the time, the paper even quoted a former US State Department official and adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas named Edward G. Abington, Jr., who asserted that Hamas’ victory meant that “[t]he two-state vision is dead. It really is.”
Yet, in June 2017, the Post — and many other major US news outlets — largely ignored the anniversary of Hamas’ coup in Gaza. Indeed, not a single report was filed by the paper’s Jerusalem bureau highlighting the event.
By contrast, the paper offered exorbitant — and deeply flawed — coverage of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War. For instance, the Post published a six-page, multi-story in the May 28, 2017, Sunday edition, running in excess of 10,000 words, complete with an online video and several photographs, as well as a more than 6,000 word op-ed. Most of these, and other stories about the war, criticized Israeli policies and blamed Israel for the failure to achieve peace since 1967; and all of the stories omitted the Palestinian rejection of countless US and Israeli peace offers.
Even as it devoted so much space to the Six-Day War, the Post ignored current news — such as the recent decision by the PA-approved head of the Palestinian Islamic courts in Ramallah to ban divorces during Ramadan, and to imprison those who break the Muslim tradition of fasting (including those Christians who live under the Authority’s increasingly oppressive rule).
Similarly, when the Palestinian Journalists Association released a statement condemning “the [PA’s] continuous hunting and arrests of Palestinian journalists and threats against them,” the Post was silent.
On May 13, 2017, a Fatah party candidate and convicted terrorist named Tayseer Abu Sneineh was elected the mayor of Hebron, one of the largest cities under PA-control; it is also a city of religious importance to both Jews and Muslims. The Post could have informed its readers of the new mayor’s terrorist background. It did not.
Nor did it inform readers about recent revelations, noted by the Times of Israel, Haaretz and others, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted — and PA President Abbas rejected — US-proposed guidelines to restart peace negotiations in 2014.
In the last 60 days in the Gaza Strip, Hamas carried out ISIS-style public executions of three Palestinians deemed subversive, expelled PA-officials in a sign of growing tensions and even banned Gazans from walking their dogs in an effort to get residents to “think only about politics, about resistance [attacking Israel],” as a scared Palestinian dog owner told the Telegraph.
Furthermore, chronic power cuts in the Gaza Strip — the result of Hamas spending its money on terror instead of infrastructure — have led to increased tensions and unrest. Yet, the Post’s Jerusalem bureau has yet to run a recent story on this.
In a June 5, 2017, interview live streamed on Facebook, Post Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth claimed that the paper seeks to detail how “ordinary Palestinians… conduct their daily lives.” If so, it is failing — horribly.
The writer is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. His views are his own.